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Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris in 1913, sparking a riot and screaming so loud that the dancers could not hear the orchestra, and the choreographer had to shout numbers from backstage to keep the dancers on beat.
The Rite of Spring continues to challenge listeners. According to Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring was intended to portray “the surge of spring, the magnificent upsurge of nature reborn.” As you will see, Stravinsky’s description is almost frighteningly apt!
Harvard’s Thomas Forrest Kelly (Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music) guides learners through The Rite of Spring, highlighting not only the contributions of Stravinsky, the composer, but also those of his collaborators. Professor Kelly takes learners through the ballet’s development, rehearsals, and finally, premiere performance, and he explores just how and why The Rite of Spring challenged (and to a certain extent, continues to challenge) its listeners.
You will learn about the ballet’s innovative choreography, the basics of 20th-century orchestral form and technique, and the circumstances of this ballet’s first performance and subsequent history. Learners in this course need not have any prior musical experience.
- Identify and describe forms and techniques used in 20th-century orchestral music
- Understand approaches to ballet choreography in the 20th century
- Appreciate cultural context and performance circumstances of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring
Thomas Forrest Kelly
Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The Harvard Corporation is its first chartered corporation. Although never formally affiliated with any denomination, the early College primarily trained Congregational and Unitarian clergy. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century, Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites. Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot's long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard was a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. A. Lawrence Lowell, who followed Eliot, further reformed the undergraduate curriculum and undertook aggressive expansion of Harvard's land holdings and physical plant. James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College.
The university is organized into eleven separate academic units—ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area: its 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Boston; the business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are in the Longwood Medical Area. The endowment of Harvard's is worth $37.1 billion, making it the largest of any academic institution.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The nominal cost of attendance is high, but the university's large endowment allows it to offer generous financial aid packages. The Harvard Library is the world's largest academic and private library system, comprising 79 individual libraries holding over 18 million items. The University is cited as one of the world's top tertiary institutions by various organizations.
Harvard's alumni include eight U.S. presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars. To date, some 157 Nobel laureates, 18 Fields Medalists, and 14 Turing Award winners have been affiliated as students, faculty, or staff. In addition, Harvard students and alumni have won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold, 41 silver and 21 bronze).
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